Team Germany ran away to success in the Race of Champions Nation Cup last weekend, a victory on home soil in Dusseldorf for the pairing of Sebastian Vettel and Michael Schumacher.
The pair overcame stiff competition from top motorsport countries of the world, as drivers from all motorsport disciplines tried their hand in a variety of cars on the circuit.
Meanwhile in the individual classification there was a surprise winner in Filipe Albuquerque, the relative unknown driver who has spent the last two seasons racing GT cars in Italy. He previously raced in Gp2 and Formula Renault 3.5.
“I was not really expecting to win. I just came here to do my best. I don’t know if it will open doors. I think I know what I want. But let’s see, take it day by day.
“I came here, did my best, when it counted it was good. Even if I had not won, even being so close to Sebastien [Loeb] in the end was already really good for me.”
Meanwhile there was drama for 2004 champion and Lotus F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen. Following victory in an Audi R8 race, the Finn crashed and knocked himself unconscious.
“Hardcore shunt with throttle jammed and rear suspension damaged, got knocked out, now some medical checkups,” he wrote on his Twitter page.
“Head’s a bit sore, I was unconscious for 30 seconds”
Red Bull Racing owner Dietrich Mateschitz has handed out all of the staff bonuses to his team following their double world championship victory this season, according to German newspaper Bild.
It has been estimated that the majority of the 500 staff in Milton Keynes were given £10,000 for their troubles over the season, while more senior staff earnt themselves a bonus of about £42,000 for their part in the victories.
World Champion Sebastian Vettel earnt himself around £2.6million for winning the world championship, on top of the extra sponsorship money and revenue he will now command following the championship victory. Proctor & Gamble have already signed a new sponsorship deal with the young German.
It is merely a drop in the ocean for owner Mateschitz, himself a millionaire, who is expected to receive about £62million in prize money for the championship wins. He has always maintained however that his wallet is not a bottomless pit when it comes to the budget for the team, they are estimated to have a middle ground budget of between €300million and €500million. Toyota were the top budget spenders in F1, but it is likely that Ferrari have regained the crown of the largest spenders in F1.
Fernando Alonso was the fastest man on the second and final day of the Pirelli tyre tests at Abu Dhabi.
The Spaniard, who came close to winning the 2010 World Championship, set a fastest time of 1.40.529. That was around a tenth quicker than second placed man Michael Schumacher who has clearly taken to the Pirelli tyres better than team mate Nico Rosberg.
World Champion Sebastian Vettel was third, while McLaren testers Gary Paffett and Oliver Turvey were 6th and 7th.
Pastor Maldonado, linked heavily with a 2011 Williams drive, was out for Hispania once again and finished in 14th place just ahead of Virgin’s Timo Glock.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m40.529s 105 2. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m40.685s 74 3. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m40.825s 66 4. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1m41.294s 100 5. Robert Kubica Renault 1m41.614s 91 6. Gary Paffett McLaren 1m41.622s 46 7. Oliver Turvey McLaren 1m41.740s 30 8. Paul di Resta Force India 1m41.869s 35 9. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m42.110s 43 10. Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m42.145s 97 11. Tonio Liuzzi Force India 1m42.416s 46 12. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m42.777s 46 13. Jarno Trulli Lotus 1m44.521s 83 14. Pastor Maldonado Hispania 1m44.768s 65 15. Timo Glock Virgin 1m44.783s 82
Various drivers had the opportunity to test the new Pirelli tyres today in the first test at Abu Dhabi. While only driving their 2010 machines, it will give them the chance to evaluate the new rubber from the Italian manufacturer.
Here’s what a variety of the drivers thought about the tyres following the test.
Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing):
“Given the short amount of time Pirelli had, I think they did a good job,” said world champion Sebastian Vettel, who set the second-fastest time of the day. “It’s a good start and it was good to be back in the car.
“You need to give the car a bit of time to adapt to the tyres. We need to work on the set-up, but I think it’s a common view that the tyres have behaved pretty well and probably better than a lot of people expected.”
Rubens Barrichello (Williams):
“I’ve been positively impressed,” said Barrichello. “The track is a little bit different because I think they polished the asphalt because of the Bridgestone rubber.
“I don’t think it’s time to make comparisons, but I thought it was positive. I did 42 laps in the morning and it was okay. They are different to Bridgestones and we need to keep learning. We could not expect a completely different tyre to work the same way. I quite like the challenge.”
Felipe Massa (Ferrari):
“The harder compound has a lot of degradation and it’s not as quick as I expected,” Massa said.
“As for the softer tyre, I was very happy with it. It’s quick, degradation is very good. I did long runs with both and the one I did with the softer tyre was very good, possibly better than what I had last Sunday in the race.
“Of course, again, they’ll have to work to improve the harder compound they brought here, but that’s what this test was all about. Pirelli saw what happened, listened to our suggestions and understood the situation.”
Robert Kubica (Renault):
“It’s difficult to compare because we had a race five days ago and the track has changed quite a lot due to the testing and the rubber that was laid down,” said Kubica. “I’m sure that the track grip is much better than it was in the race.
“This makes it difficult to compare them – there’s no point really in comparing them. There’s quite a big difference. It is always pretty interesting when you change tyres to feel the difference and make some set-up changes and stuff like this.
“It’s just to get an idea for next year’s car which characteristics will work best. We will never get track conditions with so much rubber on the race weekends, so actually I don’t think it’s so significant, this test. A lot of the young drivers had many sets of new tyres! Although the track was washed yesterday, I didn’t recognise it. It was like a different track.”
Nico Rosberg (Mercedes Benz):
“They’re at least similar [to Bridgestone’s] or perhaps for worse for us at the moment”
“…In the big picture, they are pretty similar in the end to the Bridgestones, but if you are then looking for the fine tuning to extract the performance there is some way to go on adapting the set-up.
“At the moment, we have done the small things that you can do at the track but there are the bigger things that you need to take care of with the car development. That’s going to be one of the areas that are very important for success for next year.”
Felipe Massa was the fastest man on the first day of testing for the new Pirelli tyres.
The Brazilian driver was narrowly quicker than World Champion Sebastian Vettel.
Today wasn’t really about the times, it was about seeing how the new tyres coped on the cars, and seemingly they have worked rather well. No major problems for any driver, only a small puncture for Vettel at the end of the session which was due to track debris puncturing the tyre rather than a failure of the wheel itself.
Felipe Massa declared himself very happy following the test.
“It was a positive day to understand the way to go next year with a tyre that is quite different to the one we had in 2010,” said Massa. “We were able to see that direction quite quickly and we understood quite easily what the tyre required from the car and driver.
“But it’s also clear there are quite a lot of things to change for next year. Next year’s car will be quite different, of course, but today was positive and I’m pleased after working with Pirelli for the first time.”
Pos Driver Car Time Laps 1. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m40.170s 94 2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m40.500s 77 3. Gary Paffett McLaren 1m40.874s 94 4. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m40.950s 83 5. Robert Kubica Renault 1m41.032s 39 6. Rubens Barrichello Williams 1m41.425s 91 7. Paul di Resta Force India 1m41.615s 20 8. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m41.778s 81 9. Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso 1m42.019s 71 10. Adrian Sutil Force India 1m42.859s 20 11. Timo Glock Virgin 1m44.124s 78 12. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus 1m44.686s 88 13. Pastor Maldonado Hispania 1m45.728s 83
Here’s a selection of comments and quotes to Sebastian Vettel’s World Championship win today at Abu Dhabi.
Sebastian Vettel: “I am a bit speechless to be honest, I don’t know what you’re supposed to say in this moment. It is unbelievable. I went to bed and kept thinking about the race, about what might happen. I had some good imaginations and a good feeling.”
“We have seen incredible fights and a tight season.” don’t know how many times we have had a different leader. Some people got written off very early and then came back, like Fernando, they came back hard. Lewis [Hamilton] came back and was leading all of us. For some reason it does not feel like it is happening. It’s strange, but it will sink in when I finally go to sleep – but I think we will have daylight before that happens.”
Michael Schumacher (former 7 time world champion): “I’m quite happy for him because we are friends and it has been a tough year for him. He’s had up and downs he has had to go through, probably more on the mechanical side than on the driving side so he really deserves this championship. Well done to him, well done to the team, a great job from them all.
“My time was different time from his time, I just feel very happy for him. I think he deserves all the credit. He is a great driver, he is a fantastic guy, so I am more than happy for him.”
Christian Horner (Red Bull team principal): “It’s unbelievable. It’s been a very emotional week for this team. I’m just so proud of the team. It’s just an amazing feeling to be double world champions, it’s the icing on the cake with the drivers’ [title]. This team is the best team in the world. Sebastian, it’s the first time he’s led the world championship and he’s done it at the last race of the year. Unbelievable. A great job, he drove a perfect race when the pressure was on.
“He has had ups and downs, he’s had bad luck, he’s had some mechanical problems, some engine failures but he never lost his focus and belief – and now he is a champion. A great season.”
Mark Webber (Red Bull team mate): “I fully congratulate Seb on the world championship.”
Nico Rosberg (Mercedes Benz): “Congratulations to Sebastian today and he deserved the title.”
Jenson Button (McLaren): “Sebastian’s had some great races this year. We’ve all had up and down races this year, but for the last few races Sebastian has done a great job, and he deserves to be world champion of course.”
Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber): “I also want to congratulate Sebastian (Vettel) for his great success!”
Rob @TheF1FanaticsBlog: “I was always confident that Vettel would win a title someday, but I really thought Alonso would win today. Well done to him, but as a Ferrari fan I am highly disappointed!”